“Oh Miss, I sound like a proper Spanish
Lisa Stevens, Primary Language Coordinator and
eTwinning Ambassador at Whitehouse Common Primary School.
That was the response of Year 5 child the first
time we used sound recording in the classroom. She had just
listened back to a recording of herself giving her opinion about
music in Spanish. Listening through the headphones she couldn't
believe it was really her speaking.
This reaction of shock and pleasant surprise has
since been echoed by children time and time again as we have
used digital sound recording in languages learning sessions.
Why use digital sound
Keeping a record of written work is relatively
straightforward but speaking can be more problematic. For example,
many teachers use the Junior European
Languages Portfolio to help record children’s achievements in
languages and intercultural experiences.
So how can teachers keep track of the speaking
performance of every child? A certain amount will be noted by
teachers during language learning sessions but what about the
detail needed to give children pointers for improvement? By using
digital sound recording, those snippets of speech can be saved for
Beyond record keeping, sound recording serves
many other valuable purposes. In terms of monitoring and
assessment, play back functions provide opportunities for children
to hear what they sound like – which as we've seen can sometimes be
surprisingly different from what they expected! Of course,
it's then possible to record, listen back and record again,
allowing pupils to self assess and autocorrect. Other children
can peer assess, giving feedback as they reflect on ‘stars and
wishes' (find out more at Assessment and
Plus, the ability to publish and share sound
files with others means that it can be a great motivational
So, how can you go about
In my classroom we've used Audacity for sound
recording. Audacity is a free downloadable piece of software that
records onto the computer via a microphone. The result
is sound files which can be edited to cut out pauses and
stutters, and saved as .mp3 or .wav files.
We started off using just one laptop and a
microphone. Children came one by one to my ‘recording studio' (the
book corner!) to make their recordings. Now they can successfully
use laptops for this activity in the classroom with very
little or no help from me.
We use Easispeak microphones as they are
very simple to operate – you hold down the red button to
record and press the green button to play it back. These
are used by the children to interview one another, or by
the whole class to record our singing, or to record
conversations. As the microphones are small and portable,
pupils can easily take them out to the corridor whilst they record.
Recordings can be transferred easily on to the computer for
storage, via the USB port.
If you want to do something with your sound
files other than store them, why not make them into a Voki? A Voki
is an animated avatar that appears to talk, speaking whatever you
give it to say. Children can choose a character to represent them
and by uploading their sound file, have it speak their words. These
Vokis can then be saved on the school wiki or
published on a class blog.
We also publish some of the
recordings to our school Podomatic account, a free podcasting
site which sends them directly to iTunes. The kids love the fact
that they're on iTunes and are delighted to be on the iPods and MP3
players of family members.
Need more help?
Primary children are very technologically
savvy these days - if you don't know how it works, one of them
will. Why not have a go and you too can launch some recording